Thursday, October 29, 2015

Auto-parts factory will bring 54 jobs to Midway Station; most of industrially zoned land still available

STATE PRESS RELEASE follows; Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says the exact location of the factory will depend on geotechnical work recently ordered by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which owns the property. EDA Chair John Soper said, "The geo-tech is in on all 80 acres and all of it is suitable for construction, therefore, geotechnical is not an issue on any of the I-1 [industrially zoned] land. The company will most likely purchase 12-15 acres and may option up to an additional like amount. The total I-1 available was 80 acres. Remember this is not a done deal yet. This was a very significant starting point and I fully expect it will go forward; however, till a purchase contract is signed we won’t take anything for granted and will continue to assist AHK in making a very important decision not only for them but for Midway and Woodford County."

Bowling Green-based American Howa Kentucky Inc. (AHK), a manufacturer of interior products for the automotive industry, will create 54 full-time jobs through an investment of more than $13.1 million in a new facility in Midway, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today.

“The automotive industry is a major factor in the success of Kentucky’s economy,” Gov. Beshear said. “With that, so too are the automotive suppliers who ensure the industry thrives in the Commonwealth. Auto manufacturers and suppliers contribute more than $6 billion in payroll to Kentucky workers annually. With announcements like American Howa Kentucky’s, we know that figure will continue to climb.”

The construction of a 60,000-square-foot facility in Midway Station Industrial Park will allow AHK to supply the nearby Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky facility in Georgetown with headliners for the Toyota Camry.

“We are grateful and excited to announce that American Howa Kentucky will build a manufacturing plant in the industrial park at Midway,” said Hirosato Nanami, president of American Howa Kentucky. “We chose the Midway site due to the commitment from state and local officials and incentives which made Midway the obvious choice.”

AHK currently operates one Kentucky facility in Bowling Green, employing 179 full-time workers. That facility produces dash insulators, sunshades, headliners and other automotive interior products.

The company announced that facility in 2007 and expanded it in late 2008, adding 24 jobs, and grew it again in 2011, adding 86 jobs and 56,000 square feet to the 138,000-square-foot facility.

The Bowling Green facility already plays a role in Kentucky’s automotive-related success.

In 2014, approximately 20 percent of Kentucky’s announced new investment and new jobs came from motor vehicle-related products. The Commonwealth is home to more than 470 automotive facilities employing nearly 86,000 people. While automotive jobs have declined by 26 percent nationally since 1990, Kentucky’s automotive workforce has grown by 72 percent.

“I welcome American Howa Kentucky to Midway and the economic impact that it will have on the area and the state,” said Sen. Julian M. Carroll, of Frankfort. “We have a skilled and dedicated workforce ready to fill the new jobs the company will create. I look forward to their success well into the future.”

“American Howa Kentucky is a great addition to Midway and offers an exciting opportunity with 54 new full-time jobs,” said Rep. James Kay, of Versailles. “The company has already seen great success in the Commonwealth and I look forward to seeing its growth continue with this new location.”

“On behalf of our city, I am pleased to welcome American Howa Kentucky to Midway, Kentucky,” said Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. “We are very appreciative of the confidence that they’ve shown in our workforce and business community. We appreciate the Cabinet for Economic Development’s assistance in expediting this project and look forward to a long-term corporate relationship with AHK.”

“This is a great day for the citizens of Woodford County, and we welcome American Howa Kentucky to our corporate family,” said Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle. “This project will bring needed manufacturing jobs to our community and tax base which allows us to better serve our citizens. Thank you Gov. Beshear, Cabinet for Economic Development and Woodford EDA, who guided this project through completion.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $900,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term.

Additionally, AHK was preliminarily approved by KEDFA for $300,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.

American Howa Kentucky also is eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.

Halloween comes early with home decorating contest

Best Overall: 211 S. Winter St. (Shelton residence)
(Pictures have been added to original post.)
Story and photos by Mackenzie Clark
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Halloween came a little early this year for some folks in Midway.

The Midway Woman’s Club is going above and beyond Christmas decorations this year. The club decided to go around and give awards to houses for their Halloween decorating skills.

The houses were judged in six different categories: Best Overall Design, Scariest House, Best Use of Technology, Most Kid-Friendly House, Best Spider Web, and Best Jack-o-Lantern. There was some tough competition, but the Woman’s Club was able to pick out six houses that deserved the awards and recognition. The winners were:

Best Overall Design: 211 S. Winter St.
(Shelton Residence)

Scariest: 304 E. Stephens St. (Gregory residence)
Scariest House: 304 E. Stephens St.
(Gregory Residence)

Best Use of Technology: 128 S. Winter St. (Shockley Residence)

Most Kid-Friendly: 219 W. Higgins St. (Langdon Residence)

Best Spider Web: 318 N. Winter St. and 119 E. Stephens St. (Holloway residence)

Best Jack-o-Lantern: 106 Cottage Grove (Keith Residence)
Best Use of Technology: 128 South Winter Street (Shockley Residence); note the eyes in the windows.
Most Kid-Friendly: 219 West Higgins Street (Langdon Residence)
Here's a view from the street of the Most Kid-Friendly home, making pretty clear why it won.

Best use of spider webs: 119 East Stephens Street (Holloway Residence)

The Keith residence at 106 Cottage Grove had many good jack-o-lanterns and won that award.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Versailles bypass alternatives are narrowed to three, one leading into US 62; citizens voice concern

Story and photos by Laura Shrake
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

At the second community meeting to discuss the proposed Versailles bypass, Versailles and Midway residents voiced their questions, comments and concerns. The meeting at the KCTCS office in Versailles revealed the three options for the route of the bypass and offered citizens the opportunity to examine maps of the plans and talk directly with engineers on the project.

Previously, the alternatives included two more options, but the Citizens Advisory Committee for the project narrowed the choices to three and a no-build option. The three corridors are: Alternative A, wrapping nearest to Versailles; Alternative B, taking a wider path at the north end and funneling into U.S. 62, Midway Road; and Alternative C, taking the widest path and connecting to U.S. 60 beyond the Midway Road interchange.

Citizens looked at Alternative A as Midway Mayor Grayson
Vandegrift, standing at right, discussed the proposed bypass.
“A lot of (the decision) was based on traffic studies that were done,” said CAC member Buan Smith, the Woodford County road supervisor. “What would move traffic out of town without being too far out of town?”

Smith said that when the committee considered the options, it discussed which would be most useful in allowing traffic to travel from the north side of town to the west side of town without having to travel through a sometimes-bottlenecked Versailles. They also discussed which options would be the most advantageous without impacting too much farmland.

Smith noted that many of the objections the committee received early on were that residents “do not want it, it’s not necessary.” Midway residents, he said, are worried the bypass’s connection to Midway Road would send more traffic toward Midway.

A state engineer discusses one of the bypass alternatives.
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift echoes the concern of Midway for more reasons than this. “A lot of my constituents have serious concerns,” he told the Midway Messenger. “I would say the main one though is the potential, and in my opinion the likelihood, of increased truck traffic on Midway Road.”

Vandegrift said Midway already has too many tractor-trailers come through town on an especially narrow Winter Street (US 62) that is lined with houses with young children.

“You have a lot of people who are really concerned about public safety,” he said. “Not only in the form of traffic accidents, but actual public safety where kids play, people walk to church and school. It just feels like there’s maybe not been enough study done on this.”

Vandegrift and Versailles attorney Whitney Dunlap cited the Entran (now Stantec) study from 2010 and wondered why it seemed the findings from this study were not more carefully reviewed. In Dunlap’s column in the Lexington Herald-Leader last Friday, he said the study recommended eight modifications to modernize Versailles’ road system, the last of which being the bypass. At the public meeting, he said he was perplexed as to why all seven other options were not fully implemented before jumping directly to the most expensive option.

These modifications found in the study, according to Dunlap, include coordinating traffic signals downtown to help reduce bottlenecking, removing some parallel parking spaces to improve traffic flow, improving signage, making the existing bypass safer and less accident-prone, improving intersections, placing signs warning non-local tractor trailers not to travel through downtown, and building a roundabout where five roads intersect.

Engineer Arrell Thompson of Burgess & Niple, the consulting engineers on the project, called the bypass the “meat and potatoes option,” giving traffic the most bang for the buck. As outlined in the handout from the meeting, the project’s goals are to blend the new roadway with its surroundings while solving congestion issues, improving safety, encourage economic development and improve roadway capacity to accommodate future traffic volumes, improve mobility within the community and accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

At the meeting, state Transportation Cabinet project manager Rob Sprague said he would like to hear more design input on the alternatives, but most of his conversations were about whether the bypass should be built. He noted that the CAC has many members from Midway who are focusing on not building the bypass, and acknowledged that state studies have predicted a slight increase in traffic on Midway Road if the bypass were to be built. But ultimately the feedback he has received has been mixed, he said.

“We have had some that are interested in trying to get the traffic out of downtown and give it another route so the truckers don’t have to go through downtown,” Sprague said. “This would give them the ability to bypass downtown Versailles. It’s not a good place for trucks to go through because you just can’t maneuver down there.” He highlighted the bypass’s goals of reducing traffic accidents and improving traffic flow.

As for the concerns in Versailles, Vandegrift said he will “take them on their word that they do have a congestion problem at times,” but said “you cannot potentially push your problem onto someone else. My main question is why not look closer at that Entran study and figure out if there are cheaper solutions that would work that would save the taxpayers a heck of a lot of money.”

The bypass project is estimated between $27 million and $32 million, depending on the route chosen. Alterntative A is esimated to cost $32.2 million; B $29 million; and C $27 million.

“This is astronomically expensive … but I think it’s a done deal, I think we’re just here for nothing,” said Versailles resident Margie Evans.

Evans said the traffic problems in downtown Versailles are largely due to poor traffic management. She cites school buses stopping at the railroad tracks in town as an issue and thinks that if and when Woodford County High School is moved to Falling Springs Boulevard that much of the traffic will be alleviated.

“I want them to spend this money on the infrastructure that’s already there,” Evans said, citing many of the same suggestions proposed in the Entran study.   

The project is in the state road plan but does not have funding beyond preliminary funds for studies and the designing of potential routes. According to the meeting’s handout, the next steps in the discussion of the project include the Transportation Cabinet’s review of the oral and written questions and comments received at the meeting and holding a CAC meeting later this year to help select a preferred alternative. Right-of-way purchase is anticipated no earlier than January 2017.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Darin Hensley's 'Chili w/Beans' beat 'Better Than Darin's' to win Chili Cook-Off, which drew record crowd

By Brittany Forte'
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Story and photos by Amanda Colvin
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Nine chilis were offered for judging and eating.
Midway got its first taste of Halloween on Sunday night as Midway Baptist Church held its sixth annual chili cook-off followed by Trunk or Treat for the children.

People of all ages filled the church fellowship hall to show off their costumes and see who had the best chili.  Not only was there chili, but also crackers, cheese, hot dogs, refreshments and a full dessert table.  Residents of Midway got their full taste of fall. The scene of the cook-off was one of fellowship and happiness, one part of the purpose of the cook-off.

“For us, it’s a great outreach event and just a chance to invite the community in…just a fun time of fellowship,” said cook-off coordinator Andrea Ball.

The event brought in 125 adults and 40 children.  While the adults were eager to taste the chili, the kids seemed more interested in showing off their costumes.

Kenny Tackett placed second but may have had the best name.
Nine chili recipes were up for judging.  The recipes ranged from sweet to spicy, and with beans or noodles. The judges were selected by age to represent each generation, with one judge a child, one an adult, and one an elder member of the church. The judges each got a small sample cup of each chili recipe and picked their favorites.

The winner was Darin Hensley with “Chili w/Beans,” followed by Kenny Tackett’s “Better Than Darin’s” and Megan Price’s “Cooper Chili.”

“A lot of good chili, a lot of good flavors, a lot of good meat, a lot of good sauces,” judge Michael Webster said. “It was difficult to pick out the one that was the best.”

Trunks were decorated for Trunk or Treat.
After a difficult decision, the winners of the cook-off were named and the children headed to Trunk or Treat, in which they go from car to car in the parking lot to get candy. 

Though the cook-off was considered a competition, the sense of community and fellowship were the leading factors of the evening.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Water system flushing to be done first week of Nov.

The Midway water department will flush fire hydrants to clean the water system of mineral deposits and sediment Monday, Nov. 2, through Friday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Residents may notice cloudy tap water for a short time. The water will be safe to drink, but residents should avoid doing laundry until the water clears. The city says it won't be responsible for damages to laundry. For more information call City Hall, 847-4431.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Council backs bonds for Rupp, hears plans for structure in park area and 4-way stop; bypass meeting Tuesday

By Nate Yates, Nick Roush and Jamilyn Hall
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Teelcommunications

The Lexington Center’s plans for $15 million in renovations to Rupp Arena will move forward, thanks to the city of Midway. At its meeting Monday, the City Council put the city's name on bonds that will finance renovation of Rupp Arena.

The council also heard from Boy Scout Eric Witt about his Eagle Scout project idea to build a multipurpose stage/structure behind the library and next to the dog park in Midway, and discussed the possibility of making the intersection of Stephens and Brand streets a four-way stop.

When Tom Bozarth was mayor of Midway and a top official of the Kentucky League of Cities, the league created the Kentucky Bond Development Corp. to issue bonds for communities to help fund projects. KLC representative Nancy Wylie and Joe Lakofka of The Ross Sinclaire bonding firm asked the council to lend the city's name to a $15 million KBDC bond issue for the Lexington Center Corp., which runs the Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena, for renovations and expansions to Rupp as part of a five-year project.

Using the city's name on the bond issue would allow the center to get a lower interest rate on bonds they sell to the bank. “In order for the banks to purchase bonds they have to have a bank-qualified issuer,” Lakofa said, adding that Lexington issues more bonds than the yearly $10 million limit for banks to loan tax-free to municipalities.

According to Lakofka, the corporation needed a community close to Lexington that would not be issuing bonds in the calendar year. The corporation will use $9 million of Midway’s bank qualification this year and $6 million next year.

Councilwoman Kaye Nita Gallagher joked, “As long as our money isn’t going into that big hole,” referring to the empty lot in downtown Lexington initially reserved for the CentrePointe project.

Midway will not be responsible for providing funds. Simply put, the resolution allows the bonds to be tax free because they will bear the name of a Kentucky municipality. According to the meeting agenda, the bond issue would be payable solely from revenues to be derived from a loan agreement with the Lexington Center Corp. to pay costs of financing the renovation and expansion of its convention and Rupp Arena facilities.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the resolution “is not unprecedented at all,” noting that Midway did the same for the Lexington Center when it built the Kentucky Basketball Museum.

Lakofka assured the council that the measure would not affect the city financially and they were still free to issue up to $4 million in bonds for the next calendar year. Council Member Daniel Roller asked if the city had any projects in the works and wanted the council to make sure they would not need more than $4 million in bonds for any of their projects.

“It takes a lot of money to build anything anymore,” Roller said.

Vandegrift said that he could not think of anything in the works over the next year that would cost “more than four million dollars.”

Multipurpose structure: Boy Scout Troop 400 member Eric Witt told the council about his Eagle Scout project plan to build a multipurpose stage/structure behind the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Public Library and Northside Elementary School.

Eric Witt's sketch of his proposed structure
Witt called the structure a stage, but council members said it would be a multipurpose structure. It would be 30 feet wide, 15 feet deep and approximately 17 feet high, with architecture that would resemble the library’s stone and woodwork. A line for electricity could be installed from the library. The structure could be used for a variety of purposes such as plays or concerts, but could also serve as a pavilion for people to use for picnics or outdoor activities.

“I’m building this for the library, Northside Elementary, anyone hiking the trails or enjoying a picnic by the dog park, and an outdoor gathering place for the City of Midway,” Witt said. The dog park was an Eagle Scout project, led by Tim Hagan.

Witt has estimated a budget of $23,693, with a majority going to contractors because scouts are not permitted to use power tools. The budget would come mostly from private donations, Vandegrift said. “We would have to raise money privately, but I believe it could be done,” he said. “I think we could get some in-kind donations with materials and probably some in-kind contributions for labor.”

Gallagher said they might be able to reach out to the library and the school district for money since the structure would also benefit their patrons and students.

The project could also get help from the mayor’s new citizen advisory committee on parks and trails. He said the committee’s goal is to find grants to fund an overall park system, but this project could also receive some of the benefits.

Witt came to receive feedback about the idea and see if the council had any ideas on whom to ask for donations. Roller said Witt needed to create a site plan for the structure so that when people went to donate they would know exactly what the structure would look like, as well as the lay of the land. Another thing the council wanted was a drawing that shows what the structure would look like from the side. (Image from Google maps)

Witt’s initial proposal is just the first step in what could be a lengthy process. He took note of several suggestions from council members. Sara Hicks, a theater major in college, suggested a different design to the roof for lighting purposes. Steven Craig suggested the surface be all concrete, rather than oak wood, to make maintenance easier.

Vandegrift said Witt met with him early on about ideas to benefit the city, and although the project is still in the early stages of planning and development, he said the project would be good for Midway and applauded Witt on taking on such a big project.

“He came to me asking for some ideas. I threw out a few, and he had a few as well. I commend him because he took the one that to me is, yes, the most ambitious, but it’s also the one that would probably have the most impact in our community,” Vandegrift said. He told Witt, “I like it when people think big, and you think big. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

There is no set start date for the project, but Witt intends to start next spring. 

Four-way stop: The council discussed making the intersection of Stephens Street and Brand Street a four-way stop. Council member Bruce Southworth proposed the idea because of how fast people are traveling through the intersection.

The council had previously discussed adding lines on the sides of the street, to make it seem narrower, but Southworth said a stop sign would be a better solution. “When you’re coming down Higgins, there’s a stop on Gratz. When you’re coming down Walnut, there’s a stop on Gratz. When you’re coming down Cross, there’s a stop on Gratz. Coming down Bruen, there’s a stop on Gratz, so what would be wrong with a stop on Stephens?” Southworth asked.

One concern the council had was how to alert motorists to new stop signs. Council Member Libby Warfield said the council should reach out to police for suggestions.

Southworth suggested having sawhorses with flashing lights on top to alert people that something new was up ahead. The council also discussed having signs with LED lights, powered by a small solar panel on top, so motorists would be sure to notice it.

The council plans on studying the potential impact to determine the best way to ensure safety at the intersection moving forward.

Meeting on Versailles bypass: Vandegrift announced that the final public meeting for the proposed Versailles bypass will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the KCTCS office in Versailles. The proposal is generally opposed in Midway, for fear it would route more truck traffic onto narrow US 62, which becomes Winter Street, the main north-south thoroughfare in Midway. For the Midway Messenger's report on possible routes for the bypass, click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Runners show varied looks, from pain to pleasure, on Weisenberger Mill Road, the last leg of the race.

Photos by Adrian Rudd, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Story by Midway Messenger Staff

As dawn neared, the crowd began to gather under "the Tin Man," the old water tower.
Midway's population more than doubled Sunday, Oct. 11, as nearly 1,400 runners and probably even more companions came to the area for the Sixth Annual Iron Horse Marathon.

Organizers of the race estimated that for every two runners, three more people attended, making the estimated total crowd about 3,500.

The race is organized by John's Run/Walk Shop of Lexington. It makes a major donation to the Woodford Humane Society, which provides most of the volunteers who help along the route, and smaller donations to the Shop With a Cop program, the City of Midway and the Midway Ministerial Association.
Motorcylist Walt Leaumont and bicyclists George Vanmeter III and Alan Siebenthaler led the pack.
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, third from right, thanked the attendees and blew an air horn to start the race.
Runners gathered under the tower, preparing to start the 13.1-mile race at 8 a.m. It was 45 degrees.
The race started at Dudley and Brand streets, going up Brand Street to Stephens Street.
Alex Payne of Franklin, Tenn., in red shirt at left, led at the start and ended the race as the winner.
Daniel Rouse (1372) and John-Michael Riegger (1340) of Lexington lead a group down Stephens Street as the pack returned from Spring Station. Rouse placed 30th overall and fourth in the 20-24 age group; Reigger was eighth in that group and 64th overall. Behind them are Kevin Bryant of Versailles, who placed 61st overall and eighth in the 40-44 age group, and Heidi Olson of Lexington, who finished 42nd overall, third among women and second in the 20-24 group.
Another view looking east on Stephens Street illustrates the large number of runners; 1,375 finished.

Two women seemed to be supporting each other as they headed up Weisenberger Mill Road toward the finish line.
Later in the race, some stragglers set a slower pace in front of Midway University on East Stephens Street.
At the finish line on Brand Street, Jarred Brewster finished first in the 20-24 group and fifth overall.
Zaan Janse of Lexington finished third overall
and second in the 25-29 age group.
Overall winner Alex Payne after the race.
His time was 1:17:49.61. He is 27 years old.

David Florence of Lexington finished 130th, but eighth in the 45-49 group, and he was happy.
Emily Frith of Eastern Kentucky University
was the women's overall winner, in 1:23:10.40.
Jon Terry of Springfield, Va., who placed 49th overall,
put his medallion on his daughter after the race.
Denise Pfefferle of Lexington placed first in the 30-34 age group and 48th overall.
Justin Strickland of Lexington smiled as he finished the race.
He placed 84th overall and 10th in the 20-24 age group.
Nathan York checked his time (1:31:37.63),
which placed him 25th overall and fourth in
the 35-39 age group.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Midway Christian Church wins Midway University's first Community Spirit Award

The church's current building on Bruen Street was erected in 1895.
Midway Christian Church is the first recipient of Midway University's Community Spirit Award, "in recognition of the congregation's spirit of vision, encouragement and giving," the university said in a press release Oct. 8.

"Midway University and Midway Christian Church have shared a strong bond since their earliest days," President John P. Marsden said. "In fact, Midway University is a result of the generosity and support of the church. Without the encouragement of his elders at Midway Christian, Dr. L.L. Pinkerton would not have founded the Kentucky Female Orphan School which has evolved to become Midway University. In its 180-year history, Midway Christian Church has gone on to support so many other people and causes in this community. That's why we could think of no more fitting recipient to honor with the Community Spirit Award."

The church dates to 1830s, when the Disciples of Christ denomination was founded. Its members participate in:
• Food collection for the food pantry in Versailles
• Providing space for weekly meetings of Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous
• Purchasing Christmas gifts for children whose parents are serving time at the prison in Lexington
• Many projects with Northside Elementary, including the Christmas Shoe Box Project, Loads of Love, and the Win-Win Tutoring program
• Supporting the Hope Center in Lexington, and administering the Midway Ministerial Fund which is supported by numerous churches in the community
• Running a weekly clothing closet where price is no barrier for those in need
• Hosting monthly community dinners that provide hot meals to citizens on fixed incomes and allow attendees to engage in social activities.

From left: Dr. John P. Marsden, Anita Wilson, Jack Morgan, Gloria Batts, the former
Megan Reynolds, the Rev. Heather McColl, Sharon Burchell, Etta Manor, Bobbie Dare,
Jeanne Clark, Ray Clark, Shirley Eckels, Joni Burchett, Pat Wilson and Phill Burchell
"When you look at the many ways the church and its members serve the community of Midway, Woodford County and the region, it is obvious that their community spirit is strong," Marsden said.

The Community Spirit Award was presented Oct.1 at the university's "Day for Midway," held each fall to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the institution and Woodford County.

Iron Horse Half Marathon, making its sixth run on Sunday morning, tries to keep the community happy

This is the latest in a rotating series of stories about the Iron Horse Half Marathon. 

By Nick Jones
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecoimmunications

The annual Iron Horse Half Marathon is returning to Midway and the race will again be run with the community in mind.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, Midway will welcome about 1,450 runners who will have the opportunity to see 13.1 miles of some of the finest horse farms and pastoral beauty Kentucky has to offer. Race organizer Chuck Griffis of John’s Run/Walk Shop met with the Midway Messenger staff to preview the sixth event.

Race organizer Chuck Griffis discusses the route of the race.
“We really have to credit the city of Midway and the community and the surroundings with the success of this race,” Griffis said. “We want to make sure it is a good experience for the participants and we also want to be a reasonable impact on the community.”

With the Iron Horse Half Marathon being held on Sunday morning, though, it presents a potential traffic interruption for local churchgoers.

The route of the race, mainly Spring Station Road and Weisenberger Mill Road, will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Sunday, limiting access to parts of the town during certain hours. But with the Iron Horse Half Marathon having such a positive impact on the community each year, two churches in Midway have adapted to get involved with the event. 

“The Midway Christian Church has their church service at 7:30 in the morning and then opens the community portion of the church at 8 a.m. and hosts a pancake breakfast for the families of the people who are there for the race and it helps them raise money for the Midway Ministerial Association,” Griffis said.

This year for the first time, the Midway Baptist Church will also have an 8 a.m. breakfast, canceling its early morning service and having one service at 10:45 a.m.

Other organizations benefit from the race, too. Proceeds go to several local charities that help make the event so special. The Woodford Humane Society, a non-profit animal adoption center in Versailles, is the main beneficiary. Griffis praised the organization for providing hundreds of exceptional volunteers over the years to help make sure the race is run smoothly.

As suggested by Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, other donations will go not only to the city but other charitable organizations chosen by race organizers: the Midway Area Ministerial Association will get a donation as a result of the race, and the Versailles Police Department and the Woodford County Sherriff’s Department will receive an increased contribution to support funding for their “Shop With a Cop” program that provides Christmas gifts for poor children.

Both of those charities can expect a donation of around $1,500, Griffis said.

Midway is a town that historically boasts a reputation of being an attractive tourist destination, and the Iron Horse Half Marathon will only add to that. Nearly a third of the participants come from outside the state and about half from outside Central Kentucky, Griffis said.

“We feel strongly that we bring a number of people into the community, expose them to the business community of Midway – to the downtown, to the restaurants, to the shops – and hopefully at some point they’ll return,” Griffis said.

Running USA estimates that for every racer in a half marathon, 1.5 guests join them in support of the race. This means the population of Midway will more than double on Sunday, something Griffis said is not universally welcomed by local residents.

“To say that everyone in the community would welcome us, that would be pretty optimistic and pretty unrealistic on our part,” Griffis said. “But we do want them to know that in return for accommodating us, we will try to do everything we can to make it less of an inconvenience for them.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Council votes 4-2 for $25,000 easement for Columbia Gas to put pump station near South Winter Street

By Brittany Forte', Laura Shrake and Amanda Colvin
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council voted 4-2 Monday evening to give Columbia Gas an easement to build a new regulator station at the old voting booth site near the Midway School Apartments in return for $25,000.

Columbia says the second regulator is needed to meet demand for gas in the area. Finding a location for their regulation station was not easy. Columbia says its trucks must be able to access the station in the winter and any kind of weather.

The decision came down to two locations within about 30 feet of each other, according to Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. The other location was the cistern by the basketball courts in the park area at the south end of Gratz Street. (Google map)

The council discussed the options at length. Some worried that using the lot bordering South Winter Street would devalue property in the city. For Council Member Libby Warfield, that option wasn’t about the value of the property itself, but the prospect of what the lots could be used for instead—like developing up to five townhouses.

“I was pretty much against anything on those two lots,” said Warfield, who was on a council committee that voted 2-1 to recommend the location. “And it wasn’t a matter of money, but only the potential that lot could afford someone in the future. And maybe not the near future, but sooner or later there just won’t be any land to build anything on.”

Ultimately, Warfield said, finding a place for the regulator is not just about meeting Columbia Gas’s needs, but “our needs. Anyone that uses Columbia Gas’s product in this town is going to get cold if the regulator station they have operating now fails.”

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, “There is no good spot for a regulator station. It has no value to us once it’s put in, but Columbia Gas’s customers are our residents, so I think we have to weigh those things.” He said he thought it would be unlikely that a developer would want to build townhouses on the site.

Warfield and Council Member Dan Roller wanted to put the regulator on top of the old cistern in the area, farther from Winter Street, but James Tipton of Columbia Gas said the cistern would have to be filled, at extra cost, and the existing concrete slab would not be ideal for running gas lines underground and into the regulator stations. “The cistern is not a very good option, if at all, for us,” he said. That raised the possibility that the company’s offer of $25,000 for an easement for the station might not be good for the cistern site.

Hicks, chair of the Cemetery and City Property Committee, said the property is “our park area. And even though we lease it to Midway University, we retain it as a park for children to play in. I feel that maintaining the boundaries of the park for public use is a really important goal.”

Council Member Daniel Roller, one of two dissenters, said the cistern site is a better fit because a dumpster is nearby. “What better place to put it than by the dumpster?” he asked. “The dumpster has an odor and there’s a lot of noise from people moving things in and out of it.”

Tipton assured Roller that odor and noise would not be an issue. He said the existing regulator “has a bypass and once it gets full it releases out a little gas, but it’s harmless.”He said new regulators no longer use that system, so nothing would be released into the air. As far as noise, he said, “You almost have to be inside the building to hear anything and that would be the gas flowing through the pipes.”

Roller still said the cistern would be best fit. “It would not be next to any property owners,” he said.

Columbia Gas earlier agreed to construct a building around the regulator station rather than the usual chain-link fence. Construction will likely not begin until after the start of the year.

Other business

Halloween: The council also approved the date and time for this year’s trick-or-treat: Saturday, October 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. Some cities in the Bluegrass have discussed moving trick-or-treat from Halloween this year because that is the last day of the Breeders’ Cup and the date of the Kentucky-Tennessee football game at Commonwealth Stadium, the time of which has not been set. Vandegrift said no cities have made the switch and he did not think Friday night would be safer.

Political money: The council passed a resolution from five elderly women calling themselves the Midway Elders, with a petition bearing 108 names, supporting a federal constitutional amendment to reverse court cases “that gave corporations rights of humans and declared money is speech.”

Sara Porter spoke on behalf of the group, which also included Ann Ortenburger, Neisje Spragens, Pat Wilson and Anita Wilson. “Money has corrupted our government more today than it ever has in the past,” Porter said. “In 2014, $1.7 billion was spent on elections.”

The petition included the signatures of council members Kaye Nita Gallagher, Bruce Southworth, Warfield and Hicks, who is Spragens’ daughter. The remaining council members, Steven Craig and Dan Roller, made and seconded the motion to support the resolution. Other petition signers included former council members Aaron Hamilton and Sharon Turner.

Mayor goes from licensee to regulator: The council also voted unanimously to make Vandegrift the city’s alcoholic beverage administrator. Current Administrator and Versailles Police Chief John Wilhoit will retire at the end of October, leaving the position open. Vandegrift recently closed his 815 Prime restaurant, which would have caused a conflict of interest if he had succeeded the previous mayor, Tom Bozarth, as administrator.

Blighted Property Committee to meet at 2 p.m. Thur.

The Blighted Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet Thursday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting notice says no action will be taken. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Iron Horse Half Marathon has largest sign-up; 1,450 runners, even more companions expected Oct. 11

This is the first of a series of rotating stories by Midway Messenger reporters about the Iron Horse Half Marathon.

By Mackenzie Clark
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Too many people, not enough space.

That is an apprehension the Midway community is facing as the sixth annual Iron Horse Half Marathon is returning Sunday, Oct. 11, larger than ever. About 1,450 participants are expected and there are questions about where to put everybody. Some people are thrilled about the growth, while others are a little skeptical.

Runners U.S.A. estimates that each runner is accompanied by 1.5 other people, so the Iron Horse race will, temporarily, more than double Midway’s population.

This year's sign-up is the biggest ever. Some in Midway are thrilled about the growth of the race, while others are a little skeptical.

One of the biggest concerns about the race has been having it on a Sunday because it gets in the way of local churchgoers. However, “in general, Sunday morning has a lower impact on the community,” said race coordinator Chuck Griffis, from John’s Run/Walk Shop in Lexington.

The route was switched after the second year, Griffis said, so that the first half of the race, on Spring Station Road, will be cleared before church starts. Griffis said this would ensure that everybody is “out of their way in time for their services.”

The adjustment has “helped us win over the community,” Griffis said. Midway Christian Church, which is in the east half of downtown, concluded, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” Griffis said. The church will have an earlier service and then opens its doors for a pancake breakfast.

This is the largest sign-up the race has ever had, which brings another concern: parking. Griffis said the race is always on Midway University’s fall break weekend, which allows more parking spaces. “We can only bring so many people into the community on Sunday morning,” he said.

Chuck Griffis points out route for Midway Messenger reporters.
The Iron Horse can be a “win-win” for Midway, Griffis said, because the great location should make some people want to return after the half-marathon.

This will be a first time in Midway for some. Griffis said about half of the participants come from outside Central Kentucky, and about a third are out of state.

Griffis said the race owes a lot to Midway; “We really have to credit the city of Midway, and the community and the surroundings with the success of this race.” Three years ago, Runners World Magazine named it one of the top 28 half-marathons in the country, and Griffis said that had a lot to do with the “desirable location.”

The first half of the route runs through horse farms, which makes the run more enjoyable. Griffis said runners are a “little less worried about time and competition,” and more focused on taking in the scenery and capturing pictures. He said the atmosphere is very “picturesque,” especially right when the sun is rising at the start of the race. Griffis said he wants this to be a quality experience for the runners and the people of Midway.

The race begins at 8 a.m. Sunday. Griffis said all runners should be finished by 12:30 p.m.

The race will benefit the Woodford Humane Society, which will provide perhaps more than 100 volunteers for it. The City of Midway has received $3,000 in proceeds in each of the last few years, but Mayor Grayson Vandegrift suggested that it make donations to local charities this year instead.